Category Archive: 5) Global Macro

Emerging Markets: What has Changed

Moody's raised India's sovereign debt rating for the first time since 2004 by a notch to Baa2. Nigerian officials are on a global roadshow to support plans to issue its longest-dated Eurobonds ever. The head of South Africa’s budget office resigned.

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What Central Banks Have Done Is What They’re Actually Good At

As a natural progression from the analysis of one historical bond “bubble” to the latest, it’s statements like the one below that ironically help it continue. One primary manifestation of low Treasury rates is the deepening mistrust constantly fomented in markets by the media equivalent of the boy who cries recovery.

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Is This Why Productivity Has Tanked and Wealth Inequality Has Soared?

Needless but highly profitable forced-upgrades are the bread and butter of the tech industry. One of the enduring mysteries in conventional economics (along with why wages for the bottom 95% have stagnated) is the recent decline in productivity gains (see chart).

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Globally Synchronized Downside Risks

Oil prices were riding high after several weeks of steady, significant gains. It’s never really clear what it is that might actually move markets in the short run, whether for crude it was Saudi Arabia’s escalating activities or other geopolitical concerns. Behind those, the idea of “globally synchronized growth” that is supposedly occurring for the first time since before the Great “Recession” while it may not have pushed oil investors to buy...

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Forget the Bogus Republican “Reform”: Here’s What Real Tax Reform Would Look Like

The point is to end the current system in which billionaires get all the privileges and financial benefits of owning assets in the U.S. but don't pay taxes that are proportional to the benefits they extract. As has been widely noted, the Republicans' proposed "tax reform" is not only just more BAU (business as usual, i.e. cut taxes for the wealthy), it's also not real reform. At best, it's just another iteration of D.C. policy tweaks packaged for...

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The Fetid Swamp of Tax Reform

The likelihood that either party will ever drain the fetid swamp of corruption that is our tax code is zero, because it's far too profitable for politicos to operate their auction for tax favors. To understand the U.S. tax code and the endless charade of tax reform, we have to start with four distasteful realities: 1. Ours is not a representational democracy, it's a political auction in which wealth casts the votes that count.

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Where are Europe’s Fault Lines?

Beneath the surface of modern maps, numerous old fault lines still exist. A political earthquake or two might reveal the fractures for all to see. Correspondent Mark G. and I have long discussed the potential relevancy of old boundaries, alliances and structures in Europe's future alignments.Examples include the Holy Roman Empire and the Hanseatic League, among others.

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Consumer Credit Both Accelerating and Decelerating Toward The Same Thing

Federal Reserve revisions to the Consumer Credit series have created some discontinuities in the data. Changes were applied cumulatively to December 2015 alone, rather than revising downward the whole data series prior to that month. The Fed therefore estimates $3.531 trillion in outstanding consumer credit (seasonally-adjusted) in November 2015, and then just $3.417 trillion the following month.

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Emerging Markets: Week Ahead Preview

EM FX closed the week on a soft note. For the week as a whole, best performers were MYR, PLN, and COP, while the worst were BRL, ZAR, and INR. US inflation and retail sales data will likely set the tone for EM. Also, the US fiscal debate is set to continue this week, so expect lots of choppy trading across many markets.

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Our Culture of Rape

These are the poisoned fruits of a neofeudal system in which power, wealth and political influence are concentrated in the apex of the wealth-power pyramid. Stripped of pretense, ours is a culture of rape. Apologists for the system that spawned this culture of rape claim that this violence is the work of a few scattered sociopaths. The apologists are wrong: The system generates a culture of rape.

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Aligning Politics To economics

There is no argument that the New Deal of the 1930’s completely changed the political situation in America, including the fundamental relationship of the government to its people. The way it came about was entirely familiar, a sense from among a large (enough) portion of the general population that the paradigm of the time no longer worked. It was only for whichever political party that spoke honestly to that predicament to obtain long-term...

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Emerging Markets: What has Changed

China announced that it will remove foreign ownership limits on banks and other measures to open up the financial sector. Central Bank of Turkey lowered commercial bank FX reserve requirements in an effort to support the lira. US-Turkey relations appear to be thawing slightly. Middle East tensions are rising on a variety of fronts. Argentina central bank unexpectedly hiked rates again.

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Maybe Hong Kong Matters To Someone In Particular

Hong Kong stock trading opened deep in the red last night, the Hang Seng share index falling by as much as 1.6% before rallying. We’ve seen this behavior before, notably in 2015 and early 2016. Hong Kong is supposed to be an island of stability amidst stalwart attempts near the city to mimic its results if not its methods.

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Synchronized Global Not Quite Growth

Going back to 2014, it was common for whenever whatever economic data point disappointed that whomever optimistic economist or policymaker would overrule it by pointing to “global growth.” It was the equivalent of shutting down an uncomfortable debate with ad hominem attacks. You can’t falsify “global growth” because you can’t really define what it is.

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Four Point One

The payroll report for October 2017 was still affected by the summer storms in Texas and Florida. That was expected. The Establishment Survey estimates for August and September were revised higher, the latter from a -33k to +18k. Most economists were expecting a huge gain in October to snapback from that hurricane number, but the latest headline was just +261k.

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Let’s Clear Up One Confusion About Bitcoin

If bitcoin can be converted into fiat currencies at a lower transaction cost than the fiat-to-fiat conversions made by banks and credit card companies, it's a superior means of exchange. One of the most common comments I hear from bitcoin skeptics goes something like this: Bitcoin isn't real money until I can buy a cup of coffee with it. In other words, bitcoin fails the first of the two core tests of "money": that it is a means of exchange and a...

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Gridlock & The Status Quo

The good news is that the economy just printed its second consecutive quarter of 3% growth, a feat not accomplished since Q2 and Q3 2014. The bad news is that the growth spurt in 2014 was better, quantitatively and qualitatively. Those two quarters produced gains of 4.6% and 5.2% (annualized) in GDP, much better than the most recent 3.1% and 3% prints of Q2 and Q3 2017.

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The Savings Rate Conundrum

The economy is booming. Employment is at decade lows. Unemployment claims are at the lowest levels in 40-years. The stock market is at record highs and climbing. Consumers are more confident than they have been in a decade. Wages are finally showing signs of growth.

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Emerging Markets: Week Ahead Preview

EM FX ended the week under pressure. News of the Venezuela debt restructuring was digested well, but sentiment went south as the day wore on. Weakness was concentrated in the weakest links TRY, BRL, RUB, and ZAR, while MXN and COP were dragged along for the ride. We see EM selling pressures persisting into 2018.

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Global Asset Allocation Update

The risk budget this month shifts slightly as we add cash to the portfolio. For the moderate risk investor the allocation to bonds is unchanged at 50%, risk assets are reduced to 45% and cash is raised to 5%. The changes this month are modest and may prove temporary but I felt a move to reduce risk was prudent given signs of exuberance – rational, irrational or otherwise.

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